According to Twitter owner Elon Musk, Twitter is planning to purge accounts. No, not accounts belonging to extremists, neo-Nazis, or spreaders of disinformation.
Twitter is planning to purge inactive accounts.
“We’re purging accounts that have had no activity at all for several years, so you will probably see follower count drop,” Musk said in a tweet(opens in a new tab).
It’s unclear when Twitter plans on doing so. The way Musk’s tweet is worded makes it seem like the company is actively in the process now.
And that’s a big problem for Twitter and its users if so.
For one, what counts as activity? Many Twitter users don’t tweet; they just log in to read content from the accounts they follow. According to Twitter’s own official policy, the company actually considers an account inactive if the user hasn’t logged in for 30 days(opens in a new tab). However, Twitter has rarely, if ever, taken action against users’ accounts for simply not logging in for a month.
But Twitter users, even Musk fans and those that pay(opens in a new tab) to subscribe to his exclusive tweet content through the platform’s Subscription feature, had a more(opens in a new tab) pressing concern(opens in a new tab): Twitter accounts belonging to the deceased.
This is a serious issue. Celebrities and other notable users who have passed away have obviously not logged in for years. Removing dormant accounts would delete their accounts and any history associated with it.
And, of course, there are accounts belonging to deceased family members whom many users revisit in order to reminisce. Even the controversial Andrew Tate expressed his concern(opens in a new tab) to Musk for his deceased father’s account, which has been inactive now for nearly a decade.
“Very good idea,” tweeted Tate in Musk’s replies. “But my father died and I still read his account daily. Please keep him active.”
In a subscriber-only tweet to one of his followers, Musk appeared(opens in a new tab) to say that consideration would be made for deceased celebrities. However, this doesn’t seem to answer the concerns of users with deceased loved ones who aren’t celebrities.
The very idea of purging inactive accounts was first considered by the old Twitter regime in 2019. But, user backlash over the possibility of Twitter deleting accounts belonging to deceased loved ones was too much for Twitter to ignore. The company backtracked shortly after announcing their intention and claimed it was specifically due to that issue.
“We’ve heard you on the impact that this would have on the accounts of the deceased,” the official @TwitterSupport account tweeted(opens in a new tab) in 2019. “This was a miss on our part. We will not be removing any inactive accounts until we create a new way for people to memorialize accounts.”
Unfortunately, the old Twitter did not end up rolling out such a feature before Musk acquired the company. There’s still no way to officially memorialize accounts on the platform.
It’s unclear now if Twitter will backtrack once again. Or perhaps Musk’s tweet was just a scare tactic to get users to log in to their accounts again. If one was trying to pump up its monthly active user stats in order to appeal to advertisers, that would certainly be one way to do it. We’ll soon find out.